Resilience Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Challenges commonly arise in the workplace. Handling and thriving amid those challenges requires that you have resilience. Resilience is a skill that can benefit you at all stages of your career development. In this article, we discuss what resilience skills are, provide examples of resilience skills, explain how to improve your resilience skills and show you how you can highlight these skills as you apply and interview for jobs.

What are resilience skills?

Resilience is the ability to face and adapt to challenges to overcome them. A person with strong resilience skills can handle disappointments because they don't let setbacks keep them from progressing. Like other people, they experience difficulties and stress, but they experience those factors more positively and don't allow them to impede success. For example, a resilient person who receives a rejection email for a job may feel discouraged but also determined to apply what he's learned from the experience to the next job application.

There are three types of resilience. They are:

  • Natural: Natural resilience is something you're born with. It often relates to an enthusiasm for life and a tendency to try new things.

  • Adaptive: Adaptive resilience comes from difficult circumstances that impel you to adapt and grow, leaving you stronger than before.

  • Restored: Restored resilience develops out of learning and deliberate techniques to strengthen your skills.

Regardless of type, resilience often imparts common characteristics in people who have it. They often have a positive attitude and self-image, the ability to adapt to changes, a tendency to regard challenges as opportunities and a recognition of one's own limits. Patience is also a key attribute of resilient people, as are optimism, a sense of humor and a tolerance for negative feelings.

Their resilience is both a character trait and a learned ability. Developing resilience skills requires experiencing discomfort and pushing through it, as a runner might push through physical exhaustion to complete a race. The more you experience challenging situations, the better you can tolerate the difficulty and adapt to it.

Examples of resilience skills

There are several identifiable skills that stem from or contribute to resilience. Here are some examples:

Self-confidence

Self-confidence means feeling that you're able to succeed. It's a kind of courage that outweighs the difficulty of the task ahead of you, allowing you to face it with certainty in your ability to overcome it. Self-confidence can be useful in many professional situations. For example, if you're managing a large project at work, self-confidence can keep you focused on achieving a well-done end product rather than being hindered by what can go wrong along the way. In job interviews, this skill can help you to emphasize your own strengths instead of comparing yourself to others.

Optimism

Optimism allows you to focus on the positive and imagine the good that can result from circumstances. For instance, you might feel that you use significant time and effort when writing reports. If you're optimistic, you feel not that you're unskilled at writing reports, but that you've yet to master the skill. You know that with more experience, you can improve your ability and that the potential for improvement has no limit.

Related: 9 Entrepreneurial Traits for Career Success

Flexibility

As a professional skill, flexibility refers to the ability to handle pressure without sustaining damage to your well-being. When you're flexible, you can adjust to challenging situations. For example, if a client unexpectedly asks for major revisions on a project plan after it's already been in development, flexibility allows you to better manage the stress of additional work and potential work lost.

Related: How To Be Flexible at Work (With Tips and Examples)

Responsibility

Resilience is a tolerance against outside forces, so it's important that resilient people believe their actions can counteract their circumstances. This sense of responsibility for their own behavior contributes to a strong work ethic, motivating them to work hard since they know that their actions and responses to circumstances are among the things they can control.

Patience

Patience allows you to handle complications and discomfort with grace and control over your emotions. A patient person understands the importance of delayed gratification, knowing that tolerating discomfort now can lead to rewards in the future. Patience can help you ignore the emotional distractions that challenges may present and keep you focused on your personal and professional goals, and it can inspire your colleagues to look to you as an asset they can rely on.

Related: 5 Ways Being More Patient Can Help Your Career (With Tips and Techniques)

Communication and teamwork

Resilient people often exercise key communication skills such as listening and asking questions. Faced with obstacles, you may benefit from knowing all the details and asking clarifying questions so that you can adapt and recover efficiently. Resilience also may require that you know when to ask for help or reach out for support, as working with and confiding in others can ease stress and prevent additional frustration.

Problem-solving

Having solutions to problems that arise can aid in resilience by resolving problems that may test your limits. Likewise, being a preemptive problem solver, proactively working to avoid potential obstacles, can naturally complement resilience, which often results from having extensive experience with challenging circumstances that required creative solutions. For example, if you've ever been short-staffed while working on a deadline, you may know to have contingency plans for work allocation so that you and your team are less likely to fall behind.

Self-awareness

Resilience involves being conscious of your emotional responses to challenges, which can lead to a deeper understanding of what brings you satisfaction and what causes frustration. Another factor of resilience is being aware of your own weaknesses and either avoiding them or looking for ways to work around them. This self-awareness can lead you to seek ways to improve yourself and your ability to handle stressors.

Related: What Is Self-Awareness: Tips on Being More Mindful at Work

How to improve resilience skills

Follow these steps to improve your resilience skills:

1. Have a purpose

Having a reason to be resilient can be the motivation you need to develop resilience skills. Your purpose can be anything that drives you toward improved strength and endurance against difficulty, such as a desire to be a reliable colleague, striving for a promotion or developing skills to advance in your career.

2. Boost your confidence

Believing that you can handle challenges and thrive amid difficulty can significantly contribute to your resilience. When you feel any doubt about your ability to succeed, try to remind yourself of past successes, which can show that you have succeeded before and can succeed again. Also, try to visualize how you think a resilient person behaves and try to mimic that idea.

Related: 26 Confidence-Building Activities That Can Help You Cultivate Success

3. Set goals

Having a goal can serve as a kind of template for enduring difficulty. Determine what your goals are and why you wish to achieve them and then devise a plan that you can apply in challenging situations so that you don't lose sight of those goals. Then, during overwhelming circumstances, reflect on your goals and your plan and follow through.

Related: How To Set and Achieve Goals

4. Work on your problem-solving skills

Knowing that you're able to find solutions can help you feel prepared and increase your confidence the next time you face a challenge. That feeling of preparedness and confidence is essential to enduring or recovering from difficult circumstances. Reflect on your experiences and the creative problem-solvers you've known. Recalling past solutions can help you devise new ones in the present.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Creative Problem-Solving Skills

5. Confide in loved ones

Having a strong support network of friends and family can provide an outlet for frustrations when you feel overwhelmed. Your loved ones can voice their belief in you and encourage you to persist even when you think you can't, which may be the encouragement you need to sustain your resilience against difficulties.

How to highlight resilience skills

It can benefit your candidacy for employment to highlight skills such as resilience. Here are some ways you can make your resilience skills stand out on your resume on your cover letter and in your interview:

Resilience skills on your resume

Your resume is a great place to provide concrete examples of your resilience. If you're using a functional resume, list resilience as one of your top skills and provide descriptions of instances when you demonstrated resilience in the workplace.

Alternatively, on a chronological resume, include an instance of resiliency among the responsibilities of your job entries. For example, you could mention a time when an unexpected obstacle jeopardized your ability to complete an assignment on time but explain how you maintained your composure, stayed focused on your goal and devised a solution that resolved the problem.

Related: Functional Resume vs. Chronological Resume: What's the Difference?

Resilience skills on your cover letter

A cover letter can be a narrative of your professional journey, which is a great format for showing rather than telling how you've developed into a resilient person. You can mention past challenges and how you see them as learning experiences that have led to your present philosophy and approach to your work. This not only points toward your qualifications but also provides an idea of your professional values and goals.

Related: 7 Key Elements of a Successful Cover Letter

Resilience skills in your job interview

Every step of the interview process can be an opportunity to showcase your resilience. Even showing up to the interview itself can show that you're resilient against self-doubt and competition. Beforehand, consider the questions the interviewer might ask you and try to frame your response as an example of resilient behavior.

For instance, the interviewer might ask you to describe a time that you failed and how you handled it. Your answer can show that you regarded the experience not as a failure but as a learning experience that made you stronger and wiser. This may show that you're resilient against discouragement.

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